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Chapter 15

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University of Guelph
Sociology and Anthropology
SOAN 2112
Linda Hunter

Chapter 15 - Marx`s Historical Sociology February-09-13 9:01 PM  "Marxism" came to stand for a theory in which economic and other "material" factors explained the structure of society and the course of hisory  Economics is everything  Economic and historical changes were thus made to depend directly on technical changes in the instruments of work Marx's Famous "Preface"  In 1859 wrote a preface to A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy . The preface has long been regarded as Marx's most succint formulation of his theory, and recent interpreters of Marx have treated the preface as the locus classicus of Marx's conception of history  When Engels discovered after Marx's death that their so-called "materialist conception of history" was widely misunderstood, he undertook to clarify their position in several letters that are by now quite well known among Marx scholars  Engels - insists in both letters that economic conditions ultimately assert themselves  The only reliable way of assessing the importance of the "Preface" and thus ferreting out its true meaning, is to place it in the context of Marx's total scholarly output  We will learn why Marx expressed himself as he did in the "Preface"; only by such a method will we learn whether or not Marx proposed some sort of suprahistorical theory in which economic conditions and "productive forces" constitute everywhere and always the prime mover of history Tribal Ownership  The concept "mode of production" embraces both "productive forces" and "relations of production" A societiy's "productive forces" may be analyzed into several components: 1. The social cooperation of the products themselves, as it is conditioned by 2. The existing instruments of production, 3. The available technical knowhow and, finally 4. The society's natural habitat  Marx designated the first form of ownership as "tribal", a form coiciding with an elementary division of labor. "the social structure, is therefore limited to an extension of the family; patriarchal family chieftains; below them the members of the tribe; finally slaves."  Warfare is therefore one of the earliest occupations of each of these naturally arisen communities, both for the defense of their property and for obtaining new property  For "pillage to be possible, there must be something to be pillaged, hence production. Mode of pillage is itself in turn determined by the mode of production"  For Engels private property among the Germanic people developed out of several conditions o First the old Germanic tradition of treating the family dwelling as sacred and inviolable o Second was the roman influence o Finally, there were the retinues, which had become permanent and of mixed clan composition  Among the early Germans, as among many primative agricultural societies, tillage was typically the work of the women, while men hunted and looked after the domesticated animals, such as cattle  Thus what the retinues had become in the 150 years period between Caesar and Tacitus served to undermine the older communal institutions in several ways 1. Retinue leaders became largely independent of the discipline of their kinsmen and even of the tribal assembly of warriors 2. Retinue leaders became monarchs and nobles whose accumulated wealth and power raised them above their kinsmen 3. Retinues became "international", that is , they cut across the boundaries of the various tribes and peoples 4. Retinue leaders and members alike bequeathed their property to their own children rather than to their kindred, thus undermining the clan and elevating the family at the clans expense  as the instruments of production vary so does the division of labor  Thus Marx proposed a kind of "archeology" based on changing forms of instruments of labor  This is the same point Marx made in the Communist Manifesto where he stated that whereas the bourgeoisis could not exist without revolutionizing the instruments of production The Feudal Mode of Production  Marx and Engels considered a variety of factors. Nowhere did they attempt to explain historical change by means of economic or technological factors alone  Marx nowhere attempts to explain the establishment of feudalism as a result of the growing "productive forces" - he sees the orgins of feudalism in several closely connected circumstances - the disintegration of the Roman Empire into a multiplicity of military chieftainships,
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